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Underworld rafting in Te Ananui

  • Charleston, South Island, New Zealand

Last updated: 23 April, 2024

Anyone with even the slightest in caves – and a moderate degree of fitness – should sign up for this unique underground cave experience. Where else can you float in a magical glow worm-infested cavern?

Half-day tours start with a train ride into the wildlife-filled rainforest. It’s then a short walk to the start, where you climb down into the ancient Te Ananui cave system of

Expert guides, offering commentary along the way, take you through the maze of caves, caverns and grottoes filled with stalactites and stalagmites. Your destination is a huge underground lake in a vast cavern, eerily lit by a galaxy of fluorescent blue bulbs, belonging to the millions of glow worms dangling from the cavern ceiling. From here you float out on the gentle rapids of the Waitakere River, back into the rainforest.


Price from: £100
Minimum age: 10
Age suitable: 10+
When: All year around
Duration: 4 hours

Getting there & doing it

All tours depart from the main base at Charlston. The cave itself lies in the spectacular Paparoa National Park, half way between Punakaiki and Westport.

All you need is swimwear and a towel – they provide all other equipment you need – and some degree of mobility to climb. Min age 10 years.

When to do it

The 4-hour tours run all year round, seven days a week. Tours depart in the morning, twice daily in the summer months.

Who to go with: tour operators


Our writer’s recommended tour operators to book with

Underworld Adventures

  • Charleston, South Island, New Zealand

Reliable and responsible local operator running the underworld rafting, caving and glowworm cave tours, out of their Underworld Adventure Centre in Charleston.